If you think you can do it alone, you may be fooling yourself.
If you’re in business, the best piece of advice you can get is ‘You can’t do it alone’. If you’re starting off, it’s common practice to work with a mentor (or multiple mentors).
Never be afraid to ask someone for advice. A potential mentor will often feel quite flattered.
For a mentor/mentee relationship to work, the mentor also needs to get something out of the relationship. Don’t be too demanding as a mentee. Have something to give back, even if it’s just your enthusiasm or sense of humour.
Spread your net far and wide
Don’t limit yourself. Spread your net far. Perhaps have several mentors for the different areas of your business.
Picking a mentor should be approached in the same way you would look for a potential investor. Speak to lots of people and refine your pitch – what are you looking for? What areas of your business need attention?
Be very clear in your head what you want. Is it strategic advice, industry insights, customer contacts, brutal feedback, technical expertise?
There are many things mentors can bring to your table. Below are a few essential qualities you should seek.
Six essentials you should look for in a mentor
Support – a good listener with empathy is what most business people need. Business life is tough. Sometimes you need to off-load your insecurities.
Inspiration – they need to be doing, or have done, things in business that you want to do.
Advice – they can point to the potential pitfalls and the potential opportunities in your sector.
Information – they know your sector/industry inside out and have the information you ask for at their fingertips.
Challenge – they are not afraid to ask you the difficult questions and not afraid to be brutally honest when you make mistakes.
A network – a mentor’s network should be reasonably vast and supportive, it’s the one thing you could tap into to help grow your customer base.
Did you know there are over 170 State supports (including grant money) for SMEs?